Promotional Mailers

When doing research on putting together a first promotional mailer, I got mixed messages from different sources. In the past, illustrators wanting to introduce themselves to publishers would send out a sample packet consisting of letter-size sheets of images (basically a paper portfolio), which the art director would put in a file. After that first mailing, illustrators would keep in touch via single image postcards, reminding the art director of his/her existence. Nowadays, it seems mandatory that illustrators have their portfolios online. So I questioned the necessity of sending that first mailing of a paper portfolio to art directors.

Art Director at Penguin Books for Young Readers Cecilia Yung shared some advice based on her personal preferences:

“I would prefer to get one large well designed postcard with one central image and two smaller supporting images (perhaps on the back). These samples should show characters and setting with a strong narrative quality. If I am interested, I will go to the website. A down-loadable PDF [on your site] will be a good feature. If there isn’t enough information on the website, I will usually contact the artist for further samples. I don’t usually need extensive illustration samples on file unless I’m interested, so I think a large promotional mailing may not be a good use of time and resources.”

One important thing to note is that some publishers post their specific preferences on their sites, so it’s very important to check there before sending mail to them.

Do you have a preferred format for promoting to art directors?

Many thanks to Cecilia for sharing her advice.
Good luck promoting everyone!


  1. Thank-you for posting the valuable advice about Promotional mailers. It makes sense to send something that meets the desires of art directors, in this case seeing a central character worked with supporting scenes. Great direction for an aspiring illustrator!

  2. Hello Eliza,

    Truly wonderful work, first of all!
    I really enjoy your sensitivity of technique and style, and relish all the tips you’ve furnished your readers with on these pages; thank you!
    I myself have been working on/off as an illustrator for many years (‘on/off’ due to not ever having been very good at all at self-promotion!), and am keen to get back into using watercolor as my chosen medium again, after having drifted more into using graphics programs (both 2D and 3D) of late in order to earn a crust.

    Personally speaking, I’m way more at home and gain greater satisfaction using traditional media, I must say, and you’ve done a lot whilst I’ve been perusing your website to inspire me back in that direction.
    Thank you, and best wishes :)


    • Thank you so much for your comments, Chris! There is certainly no right or wrong between digital and traditional, it’s all about what process you enjoy most. I’m happy to hear you’ve been inspired! Thanks!

  3. Eliza,
    I’m a huge fan, and I’d like to buy some of your art. I especially like your girl carrying the birdcage. Do you sell your original art?
    Paula White

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